We live in a culture where all sorts of devices are continually watching us, recording us, and storing us. When we enter banks or airports, go over bridges, use cash machines, or even stroll through urban centers, we’re often being videotaped. When we make phone calls, we’re reminded that the call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.
Our computer activity is tracked in a number of ways: by the inner workings of the machine (even the act of deletion leaves a trace); by an Internet service provider that tracks your total online usage; by all of the websites that you know log your visits and transactions you make; and quite possibly many other websites that you don’t know are doing the same.
At every moment in every online computer there are “spyware” applications at war with anti-virus applications. Your email address has been harvested and sold on a virtual black market that has added it to its spam factory.
Every network exchange including email and instant messaging is potentially monitored by your employer. (And, if you happen to be on the FBI’s list for any reason, you can bet your computer is being watched, and maybe your phone and your car and your house as well).
We live in a society where surveillance is a fact of life. Sometimes we don’t take notice. Other times it’s just second nature. Some of us make use of various surveillance techniques ourselves, whether we are monitoring a crying baby down the hall, keeping tabs on the family dog from a remote location, or providing some added security for the prized sports car in your driveway. And, of course, the sacred institution of marriage offers a wonderful opportunity for a wide spectrum of surveillance and counter-surveillance measures.